Alabama, Florida State opener unprecedented
Michigan, Florida another key match
The result of the AlabamaFlorida State could be a topic of conversation all season, especially among the College Football Playoff selection committee.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide and No. 3 Seminoles face off in an unprecedented opener Saturday in Atlanta’s shiny new stadium. The No. 1 team has never before started the season against such a high-ranked team.
The winner gets an early boost, and the loser could come away better off for the effort, too.
OK, we are definitely getting way ahead of ourselves in Week 1. Maybe Tide-’Noles will turn out to be this season’s Texas-Notre Dame. That game that seemed so meaningful last Labor Day weekend, but by the end of the season … not so much.
It is highly unlikely that’s the case this time. Alabama, Florida State or both could miss the playoff, but the chances are excellent they will contend and the selection committee will be trying to weigh this Week-one data point. The ramifications could trickle down to how other top teams in the Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference are judged, too.
The same could be said of a number of early-season nonconference matchups involving ranked teams: No. 11 Michigan vs. No. 17 Florida on Saturday in Arlington, Texas; No. 7 Oklahoma at No. 2 Ohio State and No. 5 Clemson at No. 12 Auburn on Sept. 9.
When the playoff field is revealed on Dec. 3, results of the first few weeks of the season could still be echoing through the selections.
No. 2 Ohio State (minus 20½)
at Indiana: Big Ten game on a Thursday night in August. How times have changed. … OHIO STATE 28-13. Tulsa (plus 18) at No. 10 Oklahoma State: Golden Hurricane gets a chance for statement. Cowboys have won five straight meetings … OKLAHOMA STATE 45-21.
No. 8 Washington (minus 27)
at Rutgers: Return match of a home-and-home deal that looked like a competitive matchup when it was signed. Now? … WASHINGTON 42-10. Utah State (plus 27) at No. 9
Wisconsin: Aggies were a plucky non-Power Five team not long ago … WISCONSIN 48-14.
No. 1 Alabama (minus 7) vs. No. 3 Florida State at Atlanta: Tide has opened with a victory at a neutral site against a Power Five opponent each of the last five seasons. Average score: 39-14. But the Seminoles are the best opponent yet … ALABAMA 28-17.
No. 11 Michigan (minus 3½) vs. No. 17 Florida at Arlington, Texas: Two teams with high ceilings and loads of uncertainty. SEC and Big Ten fans will be ready to pounce on conference bragging rights, too … FLORIDA 24-21.
No. 13 LSU (minus 16) vs.
BYU at New Orleans: Game was moved from Houston to the Tigers’ backyard because of Hurricane Harvey … LSU 24-13. Appalachian State (plus 14½)
at No. 15 Georgia: Mountaineers gave Tennessee a scare on opening weekend last year … GEORGIA 27-14.
Maryland (plus 18½) at No. 23 Texas: Seems as if Texas fans have been waiting for the Tom Herman era to begin since 2015 … TEXAS 31-14.
Montana State (no line) at No. 24 Washington State: Cougars have lost to an FCS team to start the last two seasons. Couldn’t happen again, could it? … WASHINGTON STATE 40-17.
Western Michigan (plus 26½) at No. 4 USC: Former WMU star
Tim Lester takes over for P.J. Fleck and gets USC on a ninegame winning streak … USC 52-17, BEST BET. No. 16 Louisville (minus 24½)
vs. Purdue at Indianapolis: Jeff Brohm’s first game at Purdue is against Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. And the status of Boilermakers QB David Blough (shoulder) is unsettled. … LOUISVILLE 48-31.
Kent State (plus 40½) at No. 5 Clemson: CLEMSON 56-10.
Akron (plus 30½) No. 6 Penn State: PENN STATE 50-14.
UTEP (plus 43) at No. 7 Oklahoma: OKLAHOMA 58-10.
Georgia Southern (plus 34) at No. 12 Auburn: AUBURN 52-14.
No NFL Sunday
No. 21 Virginia Tech (minus 4) vs. No. 22 West Virginia at Landover, Md.: Longtime rivals and former Big East foes separated by 250 miles have not met since 2005 … VIRGINIA TECH 24-21.
No. 25 Tennessee (minus 3)
at Georgia Tech: Yellow Jackets beat three SEC teams last season and have won five of their last six against the conference going back to 2014 … TENNESSEE 24-17.
Colorado (minus 5) vs. Colorado State in Denver, Friday: Rams already tuned up for Mile High Showdown by hammering Pac-12’s Oregon State … COLORADO 31-24. Wyoming (plus 11½) at Iowa: Cowboys QB Josh Allen gets early chance to validate some of the offseason hype against a Big Ten team … IOWA 28-20. Texas A&M (plus 3½) at UCLA, Sunday: Losing coach becomes first of the season to get heat turned up on already hot seat … TEXAS A&M 28-23, UPSET SPECIAL
Alabama offensive coordinator Brian Daboll works with quarterback Jalen Hurts. The top-ranked Tide take on No. 3 Florida State in Atlanta on Saturday night in college football’s marquee matchup.